If your Golden Retriever has been sleeping by your head a lot you might want to know why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
So, why does my Golden Retriever sleep by my head? Possible reasons are that it makes it feel safer, it has some separation anxiety, it’s being protective or you might have reinforced the behavior by rewarding it when it does it.
There are many reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Why your Golden Retriever sleeps by your head
The different reasons why your Golden Retriever sleeps by your head will likely come with some clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
It makes it feel more secure
Dogs evolved as pack animals so it is natural for them to want to be around other people and dogs in their pack. The reason your Golden Retriever sleeps by your head could be that it makes it feel safer especially if it does it at night.
You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior
The cause might be that you have trained it to sleep by your head by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as treats, toys or extra attention, when it sleeps by your head, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
If you want to get it to stop, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it does it and to try to redirect it somewhere else when it looks like it is about to do it.
It has some separation anxiety
The cause might be that it has some separation anxiety. This would be more likely if it starts sleeping by your head when you would normally leave and it becomes anxious when you are leaving. In this case, it is likely doing it so that it wakes up when you leave.
It’s being protective
It could be the case that it does it because it is being protective. This would be more likely if it sleeps by your head more when other people are around and if it can get overprotective when other people are around.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your Golden Retriever has been sleeping by your head.
When it started doing it
If it has not always slept by your head, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it did start doing it suddenly things that might have happened could include:
- You inadvertently rewarded it one time when it slept there
- The place that it normally would sleep became unavailable to it
- You asked it to come and sleep with you and it learned that its what you want
When it does it more
If there is a certain time that it tends to sleep by your head, it would also help to consider what is different when it normally does it.
For example, if it sleeps by your head when there are fireworks outside then it might be because the fireworks are causing it to become anxious.
How to get your Golden Retriever to stop sleeping by your head
Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to stop sleeping by your head. Making use of a combination of them will likely work best.
Train it to sleep somewhere else
One option would be to train it to sleep somewhere else. By doing so, you will be able to redirect it to sleep in a different spot when it seems like it is about to come and sleep by your head. Doing this should also help to get it out of the habit of doing it.
To use positive reinforcement training to train your Golden Retriever to sleep somewhere else you would train it to lay down in a certain spot and then gradually train it to stay there for longer and longer periods.
Deal with its separation anxiety
Since it might be the case that separation anxiety is contributing to its behavior, it would help to take measures to reduce how anxious your Golden Retriever becomes when you are leaving.
To do this you could do as follows:
- Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
- Reward your Golden Retriever for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
- Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
- Reward your Golden Retriever for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
- Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your Golden Retriever
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
It might help to follow the tips given in this book on Amazon which is about how to deal with dog separation anxiety.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, the cause could be that it has learned that it gets rewards when it sleeps by your head. Instead of rewarding it when it does it, try to reward it when it does not do it and to redirect it to sleep somewhere else when it tries to sleep by your head.
Make its sleeping environment comfortable
It would also help to make the area you want it to sleep in comfortable in order to encourage it to sleep there more. To do this you could make sure the room is cool, not too bright at night and that there is a space for it to lay down.
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